The credentials of RITA COOLIDGE are the stuff of legend. After earning a degree in art at Florida State University, the Tennessee native decided to give music a shot before settling into a career as an art teacher. She moved to Memphis and was soon singing jingles, demos, and background vocals for a number of area bands. When one of them, a husband & wife duo called Delaney & Bonnie, signed a record deal, Rita's reputation as an A-list backup singer spread quickly. Joe Cocker enlisted her in that role and as a featured soloist on his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Work with other rock royalty followed, including tours and recordings with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, and Stephen Stills. In 1971 A&M Records moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss signed her to the label, and one of the most enduring solo careers in all of music was underway.
Rita released more than a dozen albums in the years to follow, including 1978's multi-platinum Anytime...Anywhere. Several of her singles - "We're All Alone," "Higher And Higher" and "The Way You Do The Things You Do" - all qualify as classics. Her "All Time High" was the theme for the James Bond thriller Octopussy, and "Heart Don't Fail Me Now" (with Lee Greenwood) was used as a recurring theme for the CBS daytime drama As The World Turns.
In the 1990s Rita began devoting more time, energy, and talent to other concerns. Her own Cherokee heritage inspired increasing involvement in projects that would call attention to Native American music, culture, and issues. She joined the group Walela (Cherokee for "Hummingbird") a few years ago with her sister, Priscilla Coolidge, and niece, Laura Satterfield. Critics and listeners alike have embraced the trio, whose performances have included the internationally televised Opening Ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
In February 2004 Universal Records released a 41-song, two-CD career retrospective titled 'Rita Coolidge -Delta Lady-Anthology' in February 2004 which will include songs from every corner of Rita's stellar career, including duets with her former husband, Kris Kristofferson. Rita was recently honored with a "Lifetime of Musical Achievement" award at the 2002 First Americans in the Arts Awards and was the recipient of a "Native American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement."